Dec 30, 2018

Posted by in BUDDHISM IN OTHER LANGUAGES | 17 Comments

Letter to Disciples No.166: TEA PREPARATION (Pha trà, rót nước)


Dear disciples!

  • Make some tea for me!
bình trà

It’s impossible to drink such tea

I requested but at no one. Hearing this, Mat Thuan Duc hastily came to the kitchen. Around ten minutes later, he placed a pot of tea in front of me. My thirst and the tea flavor pushed me to enjoy it. I eagerly poured out the tea. Looking at the extremely dark hue of the tea, I opened the lid of the teapot. To my surprise, tea leaves floated like a forest that almost jumped out of the pot. For over 30 years of drinking tea, I’ve never seen such a pot of tea and way of making tea!?

Who did Mat Thuan Duc prepare tea for? May be no one because it was too strong and bitter, even it is Oolong! That’s why they say “Enthusiasm without wisdom results in disaster”.

  • Do you know how to prepare tea?
  • Yes Guru!
  • But why does this pot of tea look weird?
  • Oops… I thought the tea is the same as mine at home and wanted the color to come quickly so I put too many leaves in…

Half angry, half laughing, I thought this is “the most stupid man in the world”! If you don’t know, don’t do it. If you know but not thoroughly, don’t do it. If you know thoroughly but are not sure to be able to do, don’t do it! In this case, Mat Thuan Duc is completely wrong!

Dear disciples!

I absolutely don’t want to see such “big fanfare” among you! It is useless to bustle about but gain zero result, then others have to do it again. This is the habit of “a slave”, or at least “flattery”. I don’t expect you to be like that. This is the popular habit of a disciple who stands in front of his Guru and fellow brothers; of a monk who stands in front of the monastery’s abbot and sangha. This attitude lowers the dignity of an ordinary person and the virtue of a practitioner. “Bustling about” but gaining result is called “big fanfare” whilst gaining no result is called the “fool” or “flatterer”. It is unacceptable for Mat Thuan Duc to have such attitude or even what he named as “Guru devotion”. For your information, during ten years of being a teacher and ten years of being a journalist, I’d never come with flattering words before my managers but on the contrary, they themselves made tea for me. Now I feel ashamed for Mat Thuan Duc! May the manager love that flattering attitude but a true practitioner will never accept it. If the practitioner feels glad with that attitude, he is already defeated by the demon of “arrogance” or “complacency”. In the past, Wu Tatsu Kokushi (Kokushi is an honorary title given to Buddhist masters) also fell in this situation though his thought was not so serious. However, it was his last time of “purification” and now we have “Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance”!

Dear disciples!


Three cups of tea were made but the pot was still filled with tea leaves

Seven years ago when I asked other disciples to make lemon juice, everyone were eager to do it. Twenty minutes passed but there was no lemon juice. Mat Huong then went to the kitchen asking: “Have you finished? Bring to the Guru!”? This is an indirect way of flattery. If Mat Huong wanted to make lemon juice, why didn’t she come to kitchen but stay to hear my talk? Mat Huong had no right nor capacity to ask that question because she was the guest, not the host. Suppose other disciples finished making the juice, Mat Huong would quickly take it to bring to me and as a result, I would appreciate her enthusiasm while wrongly judge others. Absolutely not! On the contrary, Mat Huong was seen as a mediocre person who would harm the Dharma because she created the wind of Fame-Disrepute for others, especially her Guru! I am not a bigwig to shout at others. But it’s the behavior of Mat Huong that indirectly stimulated my ego and arrogance, which made me think that just with one word of mine, disciples will react immediately to my wish. This is the dead point of practitioners, especially of masters or abbots of monasteries. For leaders of organizations out there, this is the psychology of power abuse satisfaction. It’s the manifestation of blandishment that easily makes masters or managers mistake between “gold and copper”!

Dear disciples!

Another case that was hit by five poisons is Mat Phuoc:

  • Mat Phuoc, will you buy me beans to cook sweet soup!
  • What kind of bean, Guru?
  • Red bean or black bean. If there are none of them, then buy green bean!
  • Yes Guru!

Mat Phuoc quickly went to the market. I took for granted that everything would be as I wished. In the afternoon, he brought me a bowl of green bean sweet soup which I did not like at all.

  • Well, aren’t there any red or black bean?
  • I don’t know Guru! I thought green bean keeps the body cool!
  • Did you ask the seller about red or black bean?
  • No, Guru!

I felt a lump in my throat and that’s the reason why I asked Mat Phuoc to leave the central Tantra House ahead of schedule. Why so? Buying green bean is a small issue but this action causes big harm to the disciple because he believed in his knowledge of food, thus did not care about the Guru’s words. He went against what had been taught in the “Fifty Verses of Guru Devotion” (Atisha) that: “Do whatever pleases your Guru. Avoid doing things he would not like” (Verse 46). I told Mat Phuoc what to do but he did not follow, thus he broke the Tantric Vow No.1. Then what’s the use of reciting sutra twice a month? Like a parrot or sharp axe?

Now suppose green bean can keep my body cooler than other beans but could it make me better if having it just one time? Or could red or black bean harm me if having for once? Meanwhile, everyone has different tastes. Why impose his subjective thought on others and act out of his desire? He should not do it even with his family, let alone his Guru. This is just the matter of food but in Dharma, what’s the consequence if he acts like that? Therefore, according to Tantric tradition, a disciple should receive Dharma transmission from his Master or he may face troubles that Gyalwang Drukpa has warned: “Dharma should be practiced correctly, otherwise it will cause problem!”.

I also gave another disciple Mat Thanh Son a severe reprimand for telling a lie to me. Furthermore, he talked too much, too fast and wrongly reflected what he’d heard. Although Mat Thanh Son gave apology (repentance), it’s hard to be accepted because of his wrong Dharma reasoning in emails sent to me. For instance, in his letter titled “Practicing Dharma before it was too late”, he advised people to practice Dharma for many reasons but did not quote any Buddha’s teachings or sutras as evidences. Finally, he recommended a practice of “BUDDHA’S NAME RECITATION” (?). Despite the fact that the recitation of Buddha’s name is a supreme practice but it belongs to Pure Land School, why post on an official Tantric website? Love to show off his knowledge? I thought he could not get any progress on the path of cultivation due to his subjective thinking until he met However, again he showed off his ego on the forum which added to expose his “miscellaneous” knowledge.

Dear disciples!

Above are cases that share a common fault: believe in one’s subjective thinking, and less severe faults: “flattering attitude” and “arrogating all other’s credit to oneself” like the case of Mat Huong; or “rude behavior”, “do wrong but try to justify oneself” and “do not reflect on one’s fault” like the case of Mat Thanh Son.

I am simple in using food, open-minded in thinking and attitude towards life, but I am strictly care about any strong points or shortcomings related to the manner and virtue of a Tantric practitioner. There would be no compromise nor complaisance in this matter. I would not hesitate to “attack” your faults even if it may bother you. If any of you feel this is an “insult”, do not hope to receive my clemency. I would continue to apply wrathful method on them and if they do not change, they will be considered the 4thperson in the “Stable Keeper Sutra”.

I would end this article with the teaching of Atisha: “The greatest spiritual teacher is the one who attacks your hidden faults. The greatest teaching is the one that directly corrects those faults”

May all sentient beings awake in the state of enlightenment.

Phuoc Thanh Village, September 24, 2016
Thinley-Nguyen Thanh
Translated by Mat Hue Phap

  1. Reverend Guru,

    Through this article, I came to know that some actions or behaviors seem trivial at first sight but under Dharma prism, they can cause unforseen consequences to the practitioners. We do cultivation with an aim of transforming our mind in alignment with the Dharma orbit. And we need a kalianamitra (sage) to show us what the Dharma orbit is. However, we have been long time sinking in ignorance and with a big ego which is easily cheated by “sweet attraction” of eight worldly concerns. This ego, encountering bitter taste of “vajra criticism” from the Guru, will become angry and refuse to accept any sincere contributions. Consequently, our mind has no transformation but rather be overwhelmed with five poisons. Your wrathful words are the bitter drug but helps cure us from hidden faults caused by our subjective thinking. I vow to use this bitter drug to root out my ignorance and to become a true practitioner of Pure Mind Yoga instead of a parrot saying a prayer. Thank you very much for your precious teachings.

    May Guru and your consort live long for the benefits of all sentient beings

    May all vajra brothers and I always keep ourselves focused and mindful on every actions of body, speech and mind under Guru’s guidance to soon obtain achievements on the path of liberation.

    Om Ah Hum

  2. Mô Phật!

    Mật thúy rất hoan hỉ với thiện hạnh dịch bài viết của vị Thầy sang tiếng Anh của huynh Mật Huệ Pháp cầu nguyện cho huynh luôn tin tấn thực hành pháp để được tha lực hộ trì cầu mông tất cả chúng sanh luôn có duyên lành biết đến chánh pháp OM ah hum.

  3. Mật Phê Rô says:

    Kính bạch Thầy !

    Con hoan hỷ thiện hạnh chuyển ngữ bài viết vị Thầy sang tiếng Anh của huynh Mật Huệ Pháp giúp bạn đọc hữu duyên nước ngoài có thể đọc hiểu được . Cầu nguyện cho huynh luôn được hạnh phúc tự tâm, thế sự hanh thông và thành đạt xã hội .

    Con cầu nguyện Thầy Cô sức khỏe, trường thọ vì đại nghiệp hoằng dương chánh pháp, làm lợi lạc tất cả chúng sanh .

    Cầu nguyện tất cả chúng sanh được nương tựa bóng lành Thầy, Phật, Pháp, Tăng .

    Om Mani Padme Hum !

  4. Tantra Mishataru says:

    Greeting to Dear Holy Guru. I am thankful for this message.

  5. Tantra Upatissa
    Tantra Upatissa says:

    Dear Guru thanks for sharing this article.

    It’s a meaningful article from which we learn we should follow Guru’s instructions as given, should not act by our own judgement. We should not try to Impress the Guru rather do things as instructed.

    May Guru and his consort live long for other beings and get enlightened.

    May all beings be free from suffering and get enlightened.

    Om Mani Padme Hum..

    • Kính bạch Thầy! 

      Con xin phép được dịch comment của đạo hữu Tantra Upatissa sang tiếng Việt như sau:

      Kính bạch Thầy! 

      Con cảm tạ ơn Thầy đã cho con được đọc bài viết này. 

      Bài viết này ý nghĩa,  giúp chúng con hiểu rằng chúng con nên tuân theo lời chỉ dạy của Thầy,  chúng con không nên tin theo tâm ý của mình mà hành động. Chúng con không nên làm màu để gây ấn tượng trước Thầy mà hãy làm theo những gì Thầy đã dạy. 

      Con cầu nguyện Thầy Cô trụ thế lâu dài vì sự lợi lạc của tất chúng sanh. 

      Cầu nguyện tất cả chúng sanh đoạn trừ khổ đau và đạt được giác ngộ. 

      Om Mani Padme Hum. 

  6. Aman Prakash says:

    Dear guru

    I am very thankful for this article. I bow my head on your lotus feet.

    It becomes very tough to deal when someone who act like what he not really is. The person fully involved in ownself so not able to see others feeling. I had some friend like that. I think this attitude arose in them because of ego. I like the quote by Atisha” Do whatever guru likes”.

    We are so lucky to have guru like you.we all connected with you by your great compassion and wisdom. We have done many wrong activity somesimes hurting you.for this we are soory.we all need your blessings.May guru and dakini live long for the sake of all sensient being attain. may guru teachings spread all over the world peace and happiness.

    May all sensient being attain true nature.

    Om Mani padme hum.

  7. Simon Michael says:

    Dear Guru,

    I thank you for this article tea preparation you made me to understand it’s good to listen to guru teaching and follow the right step and also who ever do wrong thing she or he should caution.  Thank you for your teaching.  Guru may you leave long for the seek of sentient being.

  8. Tantra Sagovana says:

    Dear Guru,

    My name is Tantra Sagovana.

    Thank you for sharing this article.

    In this article you explain that we must avoid subjective thinking/opinion when following the orders of the Guru, that we must avoid flattery, and that we should always be honest with the Guru.

    We must have obedience to the Guru as stated in ‘Fifty Verses of Guru Devotion’.

    May all sentient beings be free from suffering and get enlightened.

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

    Tantra Sagovana (Ahmed Khan)

  9. Tantra Mashinaga says:

    Dear Guru,

    Thank you for this article. I understand that this article talks about the need to listen to my guru when he speaks and not involve my own ego into the situation.

    May guru live a long and happy life

    May all beings be free of suffering and attain happiness

    Om Mani Padme Hum

    Tantra Mashinaga (Mark Hamilton)

  10. Tantra Sagovana says:

    Dear Guru,

    My name is Tantra Sagovana.

    Thank you for sharing this article.

    In this article you explain that the proper way to have Guru devotion is to avoid big fanfare and flattery, avoid the eight worldly winds, and avoid subjective thinking.

    Also we must always follow the teachings on Guru devotion as explained in ‘Fifty Verses of Guru Devotion’.

    May all sentient beings be healthy and well and be free from suffering.

    May Guru be healthy and live long for the benefit of all beings.

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

    Tantra Sagovana (Ahmed Khan)

  11. Tantra Sagovana says:

    Dear Guru,

    My name is Tantra Sagovana.

    Thank you for sharing this article.

    In this article you explain some things about the Guru-student relationship including possible mistakes on the part of student which we should avoid.

    May Mat Tinh Phap overcome difficulties at present and get successful in the future.

    May all sentient beings be healthy and well and be free from suffering.

    May Guru be healthy and live long for the benefit of all beings.

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

    Tantra Sagovana (Ahmed Khan)

  12. Tantra Mishataru says:

    Dear Guru, I am thankful for this article. I will be extremely careful towards practicing dharma and be loyal to you always.

    May you live longer for the sake of all sentient beings.

  13. Tantra Mashita says:

    Dear compassionate guru,

    Thank you so much for sharing this letter with us, that’s so kind of you that you always share with us the daily stories and situations that happen between you and the disciples at tantra house and your opinions and the morals in it, so we can understand more and more about dharma and also feel that we’re close to you, thank you so much again.

    May you have a good health and live long for the benefit of all sentient beings

    May all the sentient beings attain the happiness of Buddha’s nature

    May the pandemic caused by corona virus soon end

    Om Mani Padme hum

  14. Tantra Pramitdhita (Josh Hacker) says:

    Holy Guru,

    I bow my head before your lotus feet!!! Thank you for sharing “Letter to Disciples No. 166: Tea Preparation” This article has helped to show me that we must stay vigilant in our behaviors, thoughts, and actions. We may think that “we know best” or we may just be trying to simply please a loved one. At first glace this may seem to be harmless but under the magnification of Dharma, we may be causing more harm to ourselves essentially. As someone who is still relatively new, I have problems recognizing these behaviors in myself. I ask Guru to please point out these faults if you see them in my comments. Sometimes it is hard for me because I live in a small town where Christianity is the only “accepted” belief system and it’s a constant battle. All I know for sure is that I need your guidance and I am very thankful for Thank you!

    Mat Hue Phap,

    Dear Vajra brother I enjoyed reading your translation. Your right effort is a great inspiration and I thank you for that. May all of your legitimate wishes be granted within the right orbit of Dharma.

    May Guru live a long and healthy life for the sake of all sentient beings

    May all sentient beings achieve the happiness of Buddha’s nature

    May the global pandemic caused by the Corona virus soon end

    Om Mani Padme Hum

  15. Mật Thúy says:

    Kính Bạch Thầy .
    Con đã đọc xong bài này rồi ạ.
    Con cảm tạ ơn đã dạy cho con bài học để con hiểu và rút kính niệm cho bản thân để sao này con không mắc phải lỗi lầm trên .con câu chuyện sức khỏe và sự trường thọ của Thầy cô vì lợi lạc của chúng sanh con cầu nguyện cho vi khuẩn corona xóm ngày được tiêu trừ Om Ah Hùm.

  16. Mật Từ says:

    Dear holy Guru,
    I have read this article. After reading, I understand more deeply that Guru devotion should be rooted in all our mind, body and speech. An overacting behavior or speech which is not originated from the mind that follows right orbit of Dharma will not result in adding merits, but causing bad consequences. When we put aside Guru’s teachings, try to show a special treatment to Guru just to impress, we consider Guru as a normal person and that was a disrespectful behavior. I understand that a small incident embraces in itself bad consequences in the future and if it was not pointed out by Guru, we would keep committing those wrong doings and ended up too late to suffer negative consequences. I am grateful for the learnt lesson and appreciated our precious chance to have Guru point out the hidden gold treasure.
    I sincerely pray for Guru’s health and longevity for the benefit of all sentient beings.
    May all sentient being attain the Buddha’s nature happiness.
    May Covid19 pandemic end soon.
    Om Mani Padme Hum.

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